News – Things Might Not Be As They Seem With The Coleco Chameleon

We’ve featured the Coleco Chameleon, formerly known as the Retro VGS, a few times now here at Rings & Coins. I mean who wouldn’t like a brand new cartridge based console, one that also plays all your classic cartridges too? It’s one project that we’ve been keeping our eyes closely peeled to. However, the latest news coming out of its recent prototype unveiling, has given the gaming community more than just a few reasons for concern.

Despite the high community interest, Retro Video Game Systems’ brand new cartridge based console’s production isn’t one that has been devoid of controversy and problems. The first of these was the failure and closure of the RetroVGS IndieGoGo campaign, which came before the console’s transition into the Coleco Chameleon, and now we have another to add to the list. One that comes just before Retro Game Systems and Coleco were preparing to launch another crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter.

COLECO Chameon
Promotional images of the Coleco Chameleon.

In preparation for this, Retro VGS and Coleco had previously announced that they would be attending the New York Toy Fair, and would be giving demonstrations of the Coleco Chameleon at the event. This event was to be the Coleco Chameleon’s big unveiling, and the plan was to drum up some much needed interest and media buzz for the upcoming funding campaign. However, whilst they certainly have got the media talking, it’s not for the reasons they would have liked.

You see, fro those who took a closer look at the prototype console, it wasn’t long before alarm bells started to ring. For example, rather than what’s seen in the promotional materials, not only did the console only play Super Nintendo games, but it was also utilising hardwired Super Nintendo controllers exclusively. What’s more, the back of the console was merely taped together rather than being a sealed unit.

Coleco NY Toy Fair
The Coleco Chameleon at the New York Toy Fair

As such, quite a few are now convinced that the Coleco Chameleon’s prototype, wasn’t a new console at all. In fact, many believe that this prototype was actually the inside of a Super Nintendo Jr placed within the casing of an Atari Jaguar. The Atari Jaguar shell is legitimately being used as the basis for the console’s shell, everything connected to the Super Nintendo however is not.

Nevertheless, further credence is given to this theory thanks to a number of reasons. The first of these is the fact that eagle eyed observers have noticed that on top of the controllers, this prototype also utilises the exact same cables as the Super Nintendo. What’s more, the fact that the insides poke out the back is in line with the size of the two consoles, and recently when one committed gamer placed a SNES Jr inside an Atari Jaguar, well it looked identical to the Chameleon.

Super Famicom Jr
The 1997 budget priced Super Famicom Jr, which was later released in North America as the Super Nintendo Jr.

Retro VGS haven’t been silent on the matter though, and the company’s founder Mike Kennedy took to Facebook to address these concerns. Additionally, he also announced an immediate and unspecified delay to the upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Although, he stated that this was not because of any wrongdoing, but rather to improve things even more. This Facebook post can be viewed in full below:

RetroVGS Facebook
Retro VGS’ recent announcement from their Facebook page.

However, things seemed to go from bad to worse at this point. You see, one of the images that Retro VGS put up to alleviate the gaming community’s concerns was a transparent un-watermarked photo. One that seems to indicate the presence of a DVR capture card. This picture has now subsequently been removed but can be viewed below:

Coleco Chameleon Capture Card
An image that indicates the presence of a DVR capture card. One that has been subsequently removed.

All in all, this is very worrying for the future of the Retro VGS’ Coleco Chameleon. Not only is it causing massive negative reactions in the build up to their second attempt at a crowdfunding campaign, but it also indicates that the prototype may not actually be real. Furthermore, the team seem to be unable to alleviate the concerns of the exact people they need on their side for the Kickstarter campaign.

Hopefully all of this is just one big misunderstanding. One that the team will be able to clear up in time, as the project is definitely an interesting one for retro fans like us here at Rings & Coins. Either way though, we’re certainly still interested to see how this one develops going forward, and for more reasons than one now.

Sophia Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she's written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DivaXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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